29.4.12

*

This is the hardest blog post I've ever written. So many of my emotions on the subject are still raw and it's only now I can vocalise in some way the sadness, disappointment, regret and shame that I have felt over the last few months.

When Josephine was 10 days old, after some of the most difficult days of my life, my breast milk stopped and our breastfeeding journey was suddenly taken from us.
 
We always knew that we wanted to breastfeed our baby. It was something we didn't even need to discuss, so sure were we that it was the best thing for our child; the most natural and most convenient. Of course it wasn't necessarily going to be easy, and it could take a couple of months to really settle into the flow of things, but it would be amazing and beautiful and totally worth it. 
When we saw the breastfeeding nurse just after Josephine was born, and Phiney latched on for the first time, the nurse couldn't believe it was the first time I'd done it. We both seemed to have grasped this feeding malarkey instantly and within 5 minutes Josephine was snuggled up on my chest, enjoying her first taste of milk. I felt as much pride in myself at that moment as I did in the seconds after I birthed her, and I could see in Ben's eyes the joy at his wife nursing our baby. For two days, it was feeding bliss. She was feeding a lot, a lot, but I knew that was quite normal and I was loving every second of it, even confidently nursing in front of visiting friends and family.
Then on the third day, I started to get sore. Again, something I had expected to happen, but no less painful all the same. Our midwives watched Josephine latch on a few times, approved of my technique and advised buying some Lanolin to help with the soreness. The next day, the greasiness of the Lanolin had taken effect, soothed my cracking skin, and feeding was once again pain free. For now.
I could easily give a day by day blow of the following week or two. The good feeds and bad. The tears, the pain, the confusion as to whether or not the constant feeding and agony was normal. But to be honest, it all blurred into one long battle. Every day we discussed what was happening with the midwives and every day they assured us this was normal. But it was pain unlike anything I had ever felt and far worse than I had ever anticipated. Plus there was no let up, with Josephine often taking only minutes between hour long feeds; a pattern that continued through the day and night.
Soon I was advised by our midwife to stop feeding on my left side, so deep was the crack in my nipple. Feeding on that breast felt like someone stabbing me over and over again. So we bought a hand-held breast pump and I pumped the left side after Josephine had fed on the right side. The first day of our new routine worked great. The relief of not feeding Josephine from the left side was enormous and I could see some light at the end of the tunnel. But the next day I awoke to a practically empty left breast. And despite an hour or so of pumping, I managed to express barely an ounce. We talked to our midwife and were told to keep pumping it, just in case the milk started once more, but they warned us that if one side stops, it's likely the other side would too. After a few days of pumping, breastfeeding and formula, I awoke to find the right breast just as deflated. And that was that. It went as quickly as it came, and apart from the odd drip here and there, nothing would bring it back. 

So that's the facts. That's what happened on the outside. But it was what was happening on the inside that turned our world upside down for those weeks, and why I wanted to write our story for this blog. 

The emotional turmoil of not being able to successfully feed your child is something I can't explain. I think of myself as a happy-go-lucky and positive person, but these were the darkest of my life. As the days went by I even began to doubt the bond between Josephine and I. I started to dread being handed my tiny daughter; my own child. This fragile, beautiful creature that was relying on me. I'd find excuses to delay feeding her for just a minute more and I'd have to psyche myself up to her latching on. I would stand in the shower crying. I would sit in the dark, crying. When I spilt 6 ounces and an hour's pumping worth of milk all over our bed, I felt as though I had tipped away the most sacred of liquids and I cried. I barely managed to hold myself together when we had visitors, but when it was just Ben and I, I would break down. Going back and forth as to whether I could continue this journey. Hating myself for my lack of determination and for feeling anything but love towards Josephine.
We knew that the worst days hit as the very common Baby Blues arrived, but on day 8 I asked Ben if he thought it was just Baby Blues or if I was experiencing something worse. I couldn't bring myself to say the words, but I found myself reading the chapter on post-natal depression in the pregnancy book our doctor had given us. Ben knows me better than anyone in the world and during those weeks displayed strength unlike that I've ever seen from him. He took charge; cared for his girls, soothed me, comforted me and supported me. He told me that he believed I wasn't yet on that path, but that maybe I was at the gate; unsure whether or not to take it. We knew then we had to do something to change the situation because, honestly, it had started to take away the joy of those first days of parenthood; our first glorious days with Phiney.
Looking back, the advice given to us by our midwives during those weeks was often contradictory and confusing. We were told on more than one occasion that our positioning was perfect, before a new midwife realised I was moving my boob into Josephine rather than putting her in line with where it naturally sat, probably causing the friction and ultimately the pain. I was told not to use nipple shields as these would stop milk production and yet my friend Ash was told to give them a go by a midwife based at the same doctor's surgery as us, and is, 4 months later, still feeding her daughter using them as she won't latch on otherwise. And we remember fleeting comments regarding my milk production, or lack of. Something that we didn't really pick up on at the time, given our seriously tired states. Today we wonder if I was ever producing enough milk; if that was why Josephine was feeding so much for so long, which led to me getting so sore, being in so much pain and ultimately my milk stopping deso easily. But who really knows. On some level Ben and I think my body just decided to shut it down, stop the pain - both physical and emotional. That it knew my stubborn nature would never give in and that, maybe, real psychological damage could be done. But who really knows. 
What I do know is this; Josephine didn't care where her milk came from. Bottle, boob; formula or breast milk, as long as she was getting fed. For that we are truly thankful. It was me who was left scarred and broken. I find myself explaining the whole situation whenever we are asked if we bottle or breast feed, and I still want to stand up in cafes whenever I get out a bottle and shout to everyone that it wasn't my choice to feed her this way. Peering through my fringe, expecting to see glances of judgement from other women. Because, honestly, I was probably someone who would have done that before. And I've held back from writing certain posts here that make some remark to bottle feeding, as I wanted to explain the situation to you all first.
Over the last few months I've been astounded by the recollection of similar stories and situations from other new mothers I've met. Some have battled through and some, like me, had that decision taken away from them. I think that the method with which you choose to feed your child is entirely your decision. It's about what makes you happy, and your baby happy, and that's a great thing. But I can't help but feel I was robbed of that choice. That my body let me down by failing at the job it was built to do; to feed my child. I still, to a certain extent, feel envy when I see my friends breastfeeding and shame when I pull a bottle from my bag. It's something I'm working on to get over, dealing with in my own way. Because in my heart I know that I did all I could to keep breastfeeding, and went beyond what many people would to give Josephine the best start in life. Our daughter is sweet and lovely, divine and bright, alert and growing perfectly: that's all that matters. 

I decided to write this post because I honestly felt that the difficult side of breastfeeding, and I mean the really difficult side, is often kept quiet and hidden away as if something to be ashamed of. I felt at times like I was the only one who felt like giving into the pain and wished I could have read more than fleeting sentences exclaiming the odd bit of discomfort. Yet when I spoke of our situation to those other new mothers, I felt comforted and reassured. I don't want to scare anyone or put anyone off, after all so many women seem to have a comparatively easy time. And the days when it was good were the most beautiful; I would go through it all again 100 times to experience those moments once more. I just wanted to share my story. To let anyone else experiencing the same thing know that you're not alone. And that whatever happens, you're doing an awesome job.

I feel only adoration and love for my daughter and utter joy when I'm with her, and I in no way believe that bottle-feeding her has affected our bond. It hasn't; pure and simple. In fact going through that experience with her, and Ben, has only strengthened our bond as a family, I'm sure.

Someday, when baby number two arrives, we'll try breastfeeding again. Only this time we'll be more prepared for wherever that journey takes us.


Ben took this picture when Josephine was 5 days old. I will always cherish it. 

39 comments:

  1. Oh Nell - you brave beautiful woman. I truly feel for you. I too struggled with breast feeding with Charlie. The pain - god the pain! I had mastitus twice and thrush in my nipples. He used to feed constantly, his suction was like an industrial hoover. I was in such a dark place, depression, crying, I couldn't be near my baby I always thought I would be such an earth mother and it would be soooo easy! It was not. I was lucky though to pull through the other side.. and I have got over this. Charlie is a bright, happy boy. Your next breastfeeding journey will be different, I am sure. It will hurt again in the beginning, but nothing like the pain of your first. Big hugs my lovely friend.. I am coming to bath very soon.. to hug you both. xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh Nell, if I could hug you I would. I want to say a few things...how you decide to feed your child is only one of many, many decisions you will make over the coming years but when it is so raw it feels like it defines you as a mother. It does not. I had such a similar story with my first child and felt so ashamed that I'd "failed" to breastfeed. I remember sobbing over my breastpump. There is NOTHING wrong with bottle feeding, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You will bond just as closely with Josephine.

    I went on to successfully breastfeed my second child for three months by doing combined breast and bottle feeding from birth (some of the midwives didn't like that - it worked for us).

    You are doing a wonderful job. All that matters is you that love your girl and she is, fed, held, nourished and cared for. Thanks for sharing your story with such honesty. Please don't feel any shame. Take care. xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nell, I cried when reading this as I recall the PAIN so well. The sharp, shooting pain. The dread when my babe awoke and was hungry. I feared the next feed due to the pain. And like you, the midwives and lactation consultant kept telling me he was attaching perfectly and that this was 'normal'. I would feed with tears rolling down my face from the pain.
    The pressure that is put on us mothers is enormous. One of the LAST things a mother should feel is shame.
    Give yourself a break. Think of how amazingly fortunate we are to HAVE an alternative to breast milk - think of all those babies who have survived BECAUSE of formula. Look at Josephine, at her bright eyes, her happy smile, her chubby legs...she is nourished. She is HEALTHY. She is loved.
    Xx

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nell, you are such a kind brave soul for sharing this. You don't often hear stories like this and I agree with everything you've said. I had the same situation with Sam, but with Bella is was so much easier, like your body is more prepared with the second child. I was embarrassed too with bottle feeding in public. It's ridiculous really and we put ourselves through so much pressure when they only need to be fed and be with us. I hope you feel better writing this. You are a beautiful family and someone to look up to. Xxx

    ReplyDelete
  6. I appreciate you sharing this Nell! I agree, you are brave.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wonderful post - I had a similar, though different, experience with agonizing breastfeeding. My husband would beg me to stop breastfeeding everyday because of the horrible pain it would cause...tears...ohhhh the tears...ohhhh the pain.

    I went to lactation specialists multiple times...tried to find guidance from the pediatrician who kindof dismissed it and said to just feed my baby formula and quit struggling. My obstetrician would simply recommend the lactation specialists and wouldn't have anything else to say on the matter. It was frustrating. And isolating. I didn't anticipate it.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think we all gain a bit of strength and courage when we share our struggles and obstacles...just as we do when we share of triumphs and achievements.

    Josephine is perfect. And you are a wonderfully loving mommy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh Nell, I'm so sorry for the pain (both physical and psychological) that you have been through. As I haven't had a child yet, I have no idea what it must have been like for you.
    Ben sounds like a rock and you are very lucky to have him, and your lovely Josephine.

    Although I haven't yet had a child, I did just miscarry recently, and I too have felt let down by my own body, especially as it was a missed miscarriage ending in a d &c. I guess what I have learnt from that experience is that although I thought it was a natural thing and what we're meant to do as women, to fall pregnant and sustain a life, that sometimes life isn't that easy. It isn't something I should take for granted, and I hope that next time around will go ok, and I won't take anything for granted.
    I have new found respect for mothers who have gone through what I went through, and for those like you who have lost the opportunity of a dream that you held so dear, to breast feed your baby.
    I haven't been brave enough to write about it on my own blog. For a number of reasons, but one day I will, because I know that reading other's experiences helped me know that I wasn't alone in what I had gone through.
    Hugs to you and your beautiful little girl (who I share a birthday with!) :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you so much for sharing such an emotional, heartfelt story. I think most women can relate to that incredible sharp shooting pain that early breastfeeding brings. It is overwhelming, and I remember curling my toes and bracing myself to feed my girls in the early days.

    All that matters in the world is that you and your gorgeous little girl are happy and healthy. If that has resulted in formula, rather than agony, then so be it.

    Sending you so much support, and wishing you all the best xx

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just wanted to let you know that one day the guilt will disappear. I fed my first baby for 3 weeks and then put him onto formula. I really tried so hard, but for whatever reasons, it didn't work for us. Baby number 2 was breastfed for 5 months, and baby number 3 for close to a year. My midwife told me that is gets easier every time and that your breast actually builds and maintains tissue after each child. It seems true in my case. All my children are healthy, and you would never know that my son was a formula bub from week 3. Attachment is the most important thing for little Phiney...and if this comes in the form of cuddles, kisses, and a bottle, then so be it. xox

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for posting this Nell - such beautiful words from an exceptionally strong mother! I felt every word you wrote - I was there 10 months ago, in agony (that stabbing pain!), the bleeding traumatised nipples, in a deep. unrelenting state of depression. I never want to revisit that time again, those feelings of dread as Everly would wake hungry and I knew I had to feed her through pain and tears. I am extremely stubborn (quite an understatement actually!) and stuck it out for months until it finally got easier, but I was not of healthy mind, I was not the best mother I could be (very anxious, depressed, crying all day) and I only hope Everly doesn't remember those days as our home was full of stress. You did the right thing for you and your little family. I know my next breastfeeding experience will be different, and yours will be too. You are amazing! All my love to you xxx

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just wanted to quickly say that I too have literally cried over spilled milk, and had a similar experience breastfeeding our first baby. Only I sutubbornly kept at it until he was quite skinny at three months. Well done to you and your man for working through it. Give yourself space and time to grieve the end of this journey. You, and she, will be OK.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'd kind of forgotten about that pain. I can remember shaking sometimes it was so bloody painful! And it went on for 6 weeks! I'm so sorry the breastfeeding ended like that, for you. I can't imagine how hard that is to come to terms with. You're obviously such a loving and generous Mum, that beautiful little Phiney is lucky to have you. Kellie xx

    ReplyDelete
  14. The pain of mastitis is worse than labour in my opinion. I too had that same feeling of dread and then self loathing through guilt when my baby cried and I knew that meant a feed. You did absolutely everything that you could but the option was taken away. I think all of us mothers that tolerate that pain and don't give up should feel immense pride- my mum's a health visitor and not many women do. You can see from your photographs what a beautiful and contented baby Josephine is )and just how much her mummy loves her) xx

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nell, I think you're fantastic.
    Breast feeding can be damn hard and we as mums give ourselves such a hard time when it doesn't work.
    I bottle fed my 2nd and 3rd child by choice after my experience with my first child and that was the best decision for us.
    Our little family unit was happy and that was what was important to me,
    Thank you for being brave and honest.
    Love to you and your gorgeous family!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I agree with all these ladies! You're so brave in sharing your story and a beautiful mama to boot! I too was certain I was going to breastfeed before Reuben came; but really had no idea how difficult it would be! I am incredibly thankful we've been able to keep at it - but we had to go through painful engorgement, crackled nipples, getting Reu's tongue clipped (because it was a bit short), horribly painful thrush that went into my milk ducts and almost a bout of mastitis. I am so glad for the support of La Leche League. After nearly 3 months of feeding it does feel a lot better, but we're still learning all the time.
    lots of love to you and your little girl xx

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear Nell,

    To misquote Shakespeare: the path of motherhood never did run smooth. That rocky path however has made the three of you an EVEN better team and strengthened your love for each other. Hurrah to that, I say!

    Breastfeeding, as already expressed in your comments above, can be VERY hard indeed. Your words brought back the pain of cracked, bleeding nipples and toe-curling pain at the relentless feeding of a hungry newborn in an instant. It can leave one feeling very lonely and totally inadequate. You are a brave and splendid mother and I am cheering you on from across the Channel! ;-)

    I write the following words very cautiously to help perhaps those reading and living through a similar experience. With my eldest daughter - sixteen today - I was wrongly advised by most midwives and health visitors NOT to use breast shields. Except for one wise soul who urged me to. Those silicon shields got me through the hard reality of the first few weeks of new-mother-breastfeeding and on to even-keeled feeding territory.

    Nell, your daughter is beautiful. You are beautiful. The next time will be easier somehow.

    Enjoy and savour.

    Stephanie

    ReplyDelete
  18. sending hugs your way lady, such a brave and beautiful post, i admire your strength. x

    ReplyDelete
  19. What an incredibly brave post - thank you for sharing your experience. Your daughter is incredibly lucky to have such caring and strong parents. I wish you all luck in your journey together.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You're a wonderful mum.
    I'm sorry you had such an awful time - I'm still traumatised by our early breastfeeding dramas which only lasted a few days. It's an act you expect to come naturally and it SO doesn't (for many). I remember pumps, shields, lactation consultants, helpers, many cushions. And the sinking feeling when my screaming babe would be passed to me, knowing I had to go through it again And the conflicting advice - argh. Don't ever feel like you've failed, you haven't at all.
    You're happy (now), she's happy. That's all that matters.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love your bravery and honesty in writing about a subject that can be so controversial and misunderstood. I thank you for sharing your story. I've been lucky with feeding my babies and I never understood exactly what women meant when they said they tried but couldn't breastfeed. I never wanted to ask them more about it for fear that I would sound like I was being judgmental or showing off. I try not to be judgmental, I think nearly all of us try to do the very best we can as parents.

    I wouldn't feel any shame if I were you. It's so hard when we feel our bodies have let us down though. I felt that with Cohen's birth, that the forceps delivery meant that I had failed in some way. But I don't think like that now. He was 9 pound 4 and distressed and all we want is happy, healthy babies after all. It takes time to get a bit of distance and healing with these things though. Go gently. xx

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thankyou for sharing your story. I can relate to your pain. We had a terribly tough time bf-ing aswell and I got such a serious case of baby blues I would call it more than that. And I remember the advice, always contradictory, never clear what we should do. It can be so hard to forgive yourself for not breastfeeding, or for having to stop. But the main thing is that your little treasure is healthy and loved. Hang in there.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Women are not educated enough about breast feeding.
    It's wonderful that you are proud to share your story. It's not easy and your story explains a lot.
    Well done Nell on raising a beautiful little girl. xxx

    ReplyDelete
  24. thanks for spreading the word, nell! Sharing our experiences is such a good way to make us all realise we're not alone in the battles we face. And I agree with all the other comments, I've never seen a happier, healthier, more loved or loving bub than yours. Well done x

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hey Nell - thank you for sharing this with us. It moved me to tears, so full of emotion and love. I'm just so sorry to hear you had such a hard time in those early days. Josephine is perfect and seems to be such a happy baby. You are such a gorgeous family, such a strong unit, and I love all your photos :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. We need more brave women like you Nell! Well done and thank you for writing such an honest and frank account. The guilt I felt when I had to move from breast feeding to bottle after my little boy was just 3 weeks was immense (and I think only others who have experienced that can fully comprehend the sadness and guilt we put ourselves through). I had literally NO idea about how bottle feeding worked - so sure that I would breast feed and hated pulling out bottles in public- convinced someone/everyone would be looking on and thinking badly of me. When I look back at photos of my boy at 3 weeks I am sad at how thin he looks and all because I was struggling with the feeding, had no support from midwives / health advisors who all assured me "breast is/ "was" best" and was adamant I could do it!- nothing like the chubby cheeks he was born with and nothing like the chubby legs he sports now! You are clearly an amazing Mama who cares so so much for her beautiful little girl and has done what is right for her (and for you)- so if you can - try not to beat yourself up anymore - in a few months she'll be onto solids and you'll have a whole new journey to explore and share! and from what I know the bond we have with our babies bears no connection with the milk - its the love that counts xxx

    ReplyDelete
  27. I think there is way too much pressure these days to do it all perfectly. to have the perfect natural birth, to breastfeed perfectly. But seriously, when all is said and done, you have a baby to have a child - not to have the perfect birth etc... In the end it has little impact on the life that you have together.
    There is way too much judgement going on in this area and even though my births were easy and I was able to feed my babies, I still felt it in other areas (OMG I co-slept with my kids). Anyway, in the end I decided that any decision I made was between me and my baby (and husband) and they were the only ones that mattered. You have to do what makes you happy because you need to be a happy mother. Babies don't care whether you breastfed them or not, they care that you are not stressed. they care that you are around to play with them and laugh with them, they care that you put their best interests first. Oh, and they are not scarred because you suffered from PND (I had it with my first born).
    My advice is to love them lots, hold them lots and try to enjoy them without feeling judged.
    You go girl :)
    L
    x

    ReplyDelete
  28. nell, this is a really beautiful post. I can tell that you are already such a wonderful mother and I'm so, so sorry that the feeding journey has brought you this heartache. I have no doubt in my mind that many other mamas will be comforted by reading their feelings reflected back to them in this post. good on you for piping up.hugs for you gorgeous lady.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm so touched by this post. I have been feeling very low recently as I've had to give up breast feeding my 4 month old (we are still managing one or two breast feeds at night). With little weight gain for five weeks and little support here (we live in France) I was told that I should try formula, like you I had envisioned breast feeding coming naturally and easily to me and couldn't believe I'd have to give my baby THE BOTTLE! But you know what she's happy, she is been fed and loved and that is all that matters. Thank you so much for writing this honest post, I don't feel so alone now. I too was wondering if I was heading down the road to PND, but maybe your right- I'm standing at the gate and I can choose not to take that path. I haven't even read your blog for awhile as I was jealous at how easily your journey seemed to be! Thanks again Nell. Much love. Sarah

    ReplyDelete
  30. I’m a little late - didn’t have a chance to comment when I first read this - Oh Nell, you do write so beautifully. I am so sorry it didn’t work out for you, but having read your latest post, I’m happy to hear that it has helped you in getting your feelings out there. You are such a beautiful family, I can tell your home is full of the deepest love, and that’s the most precious thing :) You’ve had so many amazing comments here, and reading them, it’s so interesting to hear how many have gone through the same, agonising experiences (me included), yet when it’s happening to you, you feel so alone and like the only person in the world with all these problems! I too remember the pain, like nothing else, the dread as the little open mouth heads for your nipple - makes me whince just thinking about it. As you know, we got through the other side, but it was hell for 12 weeks! I’m sorry the same didn’t happen for you, but it’s not the end of the world. I’m sure, if you have another little one, things will be different - quite possibly still painful, but you’ll be in a different place. Lots of love xxx

    p.s. I also wanted to comment on your birth story, so I’ll do that here too - you are amazing! Keep doing as you’re doing. She’s a lucky little girl x

    ReplyDelete
  31. Lovely girl. You're really brave to share this nell, and as you go on you'll realise more and more that you're not alone. I remember weaning isi coz I wasn't well enough to feed him anymore, and pouring pumped milk down the sink. It was such a desperate feeling I couldn't stop crying. I would say about 90% of my friends have had trouble breast feeding. Really. And those blimmin midwives and their advice. Always contracictory. You will have dark moments again nell but you'll be prepared next time. It's the most wonderful thing and the hardest. But it gets easier. Promise, promise, promise. x

    ReplyDelete
  32. "Our daughter is sweet and lovely, divine and bright, alert and growing perfectly: that's all that matters."

    You really are an amazing mother Nell and there is no doubt that your bond with Josephine is rock solid. Impenetrable. Never to be broken. You grew her, birthed her and will never stop loving her with every last part of you. Well done for writing about this so beautifully. I only wish that every woman in the same situation, unable to breastfeed, would get the chance to read this. xx

    And bless Ben. The man is a legend,

    ReplyDelete
  33. Nell I'm only catching up on all of this now. I'm so sorry to hear you experienced such sadness and pain, inside and out. Those early days are vulnerable and confusing and sometimes despite peoples best efforts contradictory advice can be given.

    Brave of you for writing about it honestly. You're a gorgeous lady and mother, always inspiring and eloquent. I'm sure that your bond with Josephine is not impacted by this, and when she is old enough to understand and read this she'll admire your determination.

    xxx

    ps. photos down below are beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh gorgeous girl, I'm so sorry to hear of the guilt you've been feeling and am so glad you've written this post, not only to record your feelings but also as a resource for others experiencing the same thing. I had feeding issues with Sophie, oversupply issues which you think would be a good thing but ultimately led to us having an unsettled baby all day long and which ended up with us being admitted to the children's ward in hospital to get to the bottom of things. In hospital, I suggested trying a bottle, even of expressed milk but was told I was crazy for even thinking such a thing. We've persisted and thankfully all is good now but I think the push for 'breast is best' is not fair or correct - ultimately 'love is best' should be the motto. Your darling girl will bond with you and love you no matter where her milk comes from. You're doing a wonderful job Mama, don't forget it!! x

    ReplyDelete
  35. Oh Nell, a courageous post written both honestly and eloquently.
    Just as some women grieve for the birth experience they didn't have, you have grieved for the breastfeeding experience that was taken from you. And you know what, crying was probably the best thing you could do. Crying is what all mothers do - it's our letting go, our release, it an example of just how changed we are.
    I agree with Ben - your body just couldn't handle the pain anymore...but my goodness, your Little Phiney has been blessed with the most beautiful, wise, loving, intelligent muma who will nurture and nourish her with cuddles, kisses, warm baths, home-made organic baby food and the very best sponge cakes.
    You are doing the most wonderful job of being a Muma and little Phiney is clearly thriving.
    Next time...it will probably be easier. Make sure you remind me to give you the yoga asanas and herbals tips to help you along.

    For now, forgive and be present with that gorgeous little girl of yours xxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  36. Nell, I'm so sorry you had this experience. Motherhood is not a smooth ride. There are good days, notsogood days, easy peasy moments and tough ones like this one. In the end of the day, we just want happy healthy babies...and that is all that matters. Nicole x

    ReplyDelete
  37. Nell, I hope hitting the publish button has helped you let go of the trauma this experience has caused you. Breastfeeding is not easy, it can be such a struggle, especially in those early days. Just recently I developed a cracked nipple - it was large and infected and extremely painful (even more so that I recall the experience when she was a newborn). I was so upset at the thought of weaning (even at 15 months old!) so I can only imagine the grief you have gone through as a family by not being able to fulfill your desires to breastfeed.

    But just know this - you are a beautiful mother... and in the big scheme of things - breastfeeding is such a small part of the motherhood journey. That gorgeous girl is happy and healthy and loved. That's all she needs. xx

    ReplyDelete
  38. ah this sounds so familiar and it is so true, many mothers look at you oddly when you do bottle feed but mothers always feel they have the right to judge others (let them judge away). I think we all have these sorts of stories though...I would have cuts on my breasts so bad during the first weeks of breastfeeding that I would cringe when they (ALL four) started to get unsettled knowing that they were hungry again. At the end you have to do what is right for you and your baby and not listen too much to what others say. Enjoy your sweet journey of motherhood...it will never be the same as others and that is ok.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I just discovered your lovely blog via Fritha's spa post, and couldn't leave again without posting a comment on this post.
    I failed at breastfeeding my son four years ago - no matter how hard I tried, he simply refused to latch on properly, and in the end I had to admit defeat. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was determined that this time not only was I going to breastfeed, but that I was going to do it well into her first year. Once she was born, I had no aftercare - I simply 'dropped out of the system', they said. Everything seemed fine at first, although she did seem to feed constantly, but I expected it to settle down. As the days went by, it was clear she too had a problem with latching on, she fed for hours and the pain was indescribable. After five weeks, I finally saw a midwife again, who informed me that she had tongue tie - but as she was now over a month old, she wasn't eligible to have it corrected on the NHS, and we would have to pay. We obviously didn't have the money for that, and my midwife told me that breastfeeding would only get more painful - so the decision was made for me. It seemed I was to bottle feed, yet again.
    Almost a year on, I still feel bitter. I could gnaw my arm off with jealousy when I see anyone breastfeeding, and can't help but think that it should have been me. I feel cheated, angry and let down, and like you, I feel the need to explain my entire story to anyone who will listen. I don't think there's anything wrong with bottle feeding, and would never judge a mother on their choices, but for me, it wasn't a choice, and that's the difference.
    At the end of the day, though, I've got two healthy, happy children who are well fed, well loved and satisfied - and when you think about it, what matters more than that?
    Lovely to have found your blog, and thank you for sharing your story x

    ReplyDelete